Taylor Street Pizza dishes out succulent Italian-American fare in a family-friendly sports-bar atmosphere. Gather friends to watch a football game or an emotional rerun of the Airwolf finale while noshing on a bouquet of crusty breadsticks or a platter of spicy or barbecue chicken wings. A large handmade pizza arrives doused in Taylor Street's signature tomato sauce and festooned with two toppings, including options such as canadian bacon, anchovies, eggplant, and giardiniera. Sips of fizzy, refreshing soda clear palates and extinguish spicy mouth fires. Diners can indulge in their delicious bounty in a Taylor Street Pizza dining room, carry their meals home, or request for it to be delivered to the inflatable ballpit of their choosing.
Old Towne Pub and Eatery's ample bar seating invites throngs of people to belly up, devour tried-and-true bar fare, and sip frothy glasses of craft, domestic, and imported beers. Televisions blaze with slow-motion replays of Big Ten and NFL games and cast glows on steaming bowls of homemade chili, Angus beef burgers, and platters of barbecue ribs. The clicks and clacks of billiards balls, pinball machines, and arcade games syncopate with the live music of bands that tickle eardrums with upbeat tunes and peacock feathers.
Stand facing one way in the parking lot of Niko’s Lodge and you’re in suburban Algonquin; turn the other way, and you’re in a mountain resort town. As diners pass under immense dark wood beams, they encounter a handsome pinewood bar, a roaring fireplace flanked by comfy furniture, and, drifting through it all, the fragrance of steak, rotisserie chicken, and pork ribs. Flavors tend toward hearty American favorites: barbecue, meatloaf, and decadent combinations such as a chicken-and-bacon mac and cheese, to name a few. Much of the fish is supplied by nearby rivers and lakes, and all the beef comes from upper-Midwestern Braveheart Black Angus cattle. If guests have saved some belly space, they can step outside to the fire pits to toast complimentary s’mores and destroy napkins on which they wrote embarrassing sonnets to pot roast.
Gas lanterns and flat-screen TVs illuminate the wood tables in Charlie Fox's newly renovated dining room, where hearty Italian treats greet diners with piping-hot howdyados. Pizza toppings of ground Angus beef, black olives, spinach, crumbled blue cheese, and more rest warmly atop a variety of dough styles, including thin crust ($9.95+), double dough ($11.45+), pan ($12.95+), and stuffed ($14.45+). The pizzeria's pasta specialties come smothered in homemade red or vodka sauce and include baked and bubbling mostaccioli ($8.95) and eggplant parmigiana ($10.95). Fork-frightened patrons can steady quaking fingers on a creative sandwich such as the pizza burger ($6.99), while those spoon-smitten can whittle a ladle out of an appetizer of cheesy bread ($3.99).
Named Best Honey in 2008 by the Dallas Observer, Round Rock Honey's 100% natural local wildflower honey is harvested from more than 90 sites by owners Konrad and Elizabeth Bouffard and their crews of trained beekeepers. With precision, they remove the liquid gold from hives by centrifuge, ensuring that pollen, trace minerals, and complex sugars are never compromised during the honey harvest. They then pour the honey through a stainless-steel sieve to remove potential bee legs and wings, wax caps, and miniature tiaras before bottling it and selling it to specialty stores, farmer's market visitors, and online customers.
A similar procedure happens in other parts of the country at Round Rock's beekeeping schools. During classes, Konrad Bouffard and Beekeeping Academy teachers impart their beekeeping knowledge upon suited-up students while they extract honey from a live beehive. Along the way, novices learn about the finer points of raising bees and keeping them healthy, as well as bee handling and lullaby-buzzing.
Fat Rosie's Taco & Tequila Bar’s executive chef Raoul Arreola draws on culinary experience including 12 years working with celebrated chef Rick Bayless to whip up dinner and weekend brunch menus featuring inventive Mexican fare with an emphasis on Oaxacan recipes. Eating ensembles can gear up for spirited conversation as they plunge homemade tortilla chips into the guacamole’s verdant avocado and serrano-chili depths. Taste buds escape on border-traversing sojourns with entrees such as fajitas that snuggle charred poblano peppers, queso fresco, and a choice of veggies, chicken, steak, or shrimp into a warm corn-tortilla sleeping bag. A quartet of Ensenada tacos packed with buttered tilapia and avocado mayonnaise torpedo growling tummy trolls, and the enchiladas con salsa Del Dia Tango bellies up to tables filled with cheese, picadillo, chicken, or steak. To quench mouths parched from reciting Pancho Villa's memoir, a Fat Rosie’s margarita floods tongue caves with a mélange of tequila, triple sec, and a house lime mix. On Thursday and Friday nights, mariachi music entertains diners and enables mouths to show off their choreographed chewing routines.
Sarpino's taste-makers deliver both traditional favorites and internationally inspired twists on classic Italian fare, such as pizzas, pasta, and calzones. The New York deli slices up five kinds of meat to bulk up a pie strewn with mozzarella, whereas the Greek pizza ruminates over feta, fresh tomatoes, and black olives ($19.99 each for a large). The BLT pizza bakes in layers of mayonnaise, smoked bacon, and mozzarella before bursting from the oven on a jetpack to be sprinkled with fresh lettuce and tomatoes ($19.99 for a large). Envelop cravings in a calzone, such as the vegetarian pesto packed with black olives, peppers, mushrooms, and a pesto sauce, or build your own with a special cheese-blend foundation to support up to three custom fixtures ($6.99 each). The expansive menu closes out with heaps of pasta, wings, salads, and desserts, which can be used to distract fellow diners while stashing pizza for pepperoni-loving vacuum cleaners.